Overall, no surprise that the Boston Celtics beat the Brooklyn Nets 122-117 on opening night for both teams, with the Nets eating up a big lead in the final minutes. Jeremy Lin didn’t have a dream debut, but he played well enough to leave us wanting more, while the team around him showed once more how much work needs to be done.
Lin finished with 18 points on 6-of-14 from the field and two 3-pointers. He had 3 assists, got to the line 5 times, and finished with a -3 in 28 minutes. Whenever he was on the floor, the Nets were more or less around. He didn’t play during the team’s big collapse in the late third and early fourth quarter, and he also wasn’t on the floor for most of the garbage time comeback, with the Nets erasing a 22 point lead to only 3 with 46 seconds remaining.
Bojan Bogdanovic led the team with 21 points, and it was his 3-pointer that put the Nets within one shot of tying the game. The Nets had two chances to tie the game with Bogdanovic and Justin Hamilton (19 points, 10 rebounds) missing their chances, which eventually the Celtics punished when Isaiah Thomas (25 points) hit two free throws to put the game to bed. Jae Crowder was the second leading scorer for the Celtics with 21 points.
The big problem right now for the Nets is defense. They allowed the Celtics to shoot 53.9% from the field and a 118.4 offensive rating, while the game was at a 103-possession pace. Rebounding was an issue when Brook Lopez was playing, and the All-Star center continues to seem like a misfit at the moment. He shot just 1-for-7 from the field, struggled on the boards and protecting the basket. Hamilton isn’t as good on paper defensively, but his ability to stretch the floor (3-for-6 from three) and grab 6 offensive rebounds make him seem like a much more suitable option in the lineup, especially when Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Trevor Booker don’t offer much range. Booker wasn’t bad when it came to hustle and doing a bit of everything, while Jefferson remains an issue due to his shooting deficiencies.
Joe Harris helped out with 16 points off the bench, playing a big role in the Nets coming back within one shot of tying the game. Atkinson is supposed to be creative, but his current starting lineup seems a bit counterproductive to the system the team is running, unless Lopez gets out of the funk he’s in. With the defense looking bad either way, maybe going with more shooting lineups is the trick? Obviously, the Nets are still figuring it out.
Lin had no problem scoring, and seemed to have an unlucky night, missing 3 three-pointers from the same spot, while having a rougher time than usual finishing at the rim. The Celtics got away with some calls down low, but that isn’t surprising at home, and that didn’t really swing the score. The Nets need defense, and to sort out consistency offensively. Lin scored 18 points and it didn’t even feel like he was having too good of a game. That means the ceiling is quite high for him, and perhaps the Nets, although it’s going to take more time before they figure it out.